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Lofiles is a music and mp3 blog contains a collection of songs I love. MP3s are for sampling purposes only. If you like the music as much as I do, please go out and buy the records! .If you have a complaint about the ownership of a track, please contact me directly and I will be happy to take it down ASAP.
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The Olafur Arnalds lofiles interview



Lofiles: What is your training as a musician?

Olafur: I started very young, studying various instruments (piano, guitar, drums…) until i was 20 or so and decided to concentrate totally on composition. Until then my compositional training had mostly been digging up my older sister’s old theory books and just studying everything myself. I went to the Iceland Arts Academy to study classical composition but as my musical career took off i decided to drop out after my first year.

L: How do you explain the fact that from an isolated and small place such as Iceland there have emerged so many great and world renown musicians (e.g., Bjork, Sigur Ros, Mum, Bang Gang, Gus Gus, Emiliana Torrini)?

OA: There is no one answer to this question. But i think the fact that it is isolated and such a small community actually helps. We inspire each others to do unusual things.

L: Can you recommend any great local indie artists to our readers?

OA: Kimono just released a new album that’s amazing! Also the electro pop group Bloodgroup released a new album (that i actually arranged strings for) that’s also awesome. Those 2 are probably my favorite Icelandic albums of the yar.

L: What was the first time you realized that you want to be a professional musician?

OA: Not a particular moment that i can remember, It was a long time ago… But i remember realizing that i was on to something with my current project.. It was my first ever tour with this music, first show of the tour. Actually i think it was probably my first show ever with this project. It was in Germany and we had just flown in on the same day and our flight was late so we only arrived to the venue (a huge, beautiful church) like just before doors. There was a long line down the road of like 100-200 people who were waiting for the show to start.. I was like “wow are they all here to see me?!”. After the show the audience wouldn’t stop applauding, we did encores until we didn’t know any more songs. I was very surprised and in fact every show of the tour went like that… and actually pretty much every show we’ve played since. Stuff like that makes you realize you are on the right path in life.

L: I have seen films that were filmed in Iceland, so I am a little familiar with the landscape and I think that your music complements it so well. Do you think that Iceland has influenced your musical style?

OA: Directly as a scenic landscape, no i don’t think so. But where you are from is always going to influence who you are and what you do.

L: Why did you choose that name ‘Found Songs’?

OA: Because most of the songs were made from old, unfinished ideas i had forgotten and found again during that week.

L: This wonderful project of yours, ‘Found Songs’, reminds me of a great spontaneous and lively Harold Budd track that Lanois recorded when Harold didn’t know he was being taped. It also reminds me of an Erik Satie record that I own. Are these names familiar? If so, have they influenced on your work?

OA:I don’t know Harold Budd very well but Erik Satie has always been a favorite. I wouldn’t say he has particularly been a big influence on me though, i’m more influenced by Bach, Chopin and Schubert for example.

L: Do you decide to record song a day before making the record, or does it happen after improvising by the piano?

OA: This project had this concept before i started. It was a challenge i set for myself. Write, record, mix, master and release one song per day. It was a very useful challenge actually, i think i grew more as a composer that week than i usually do in a few months!

L: Bardi Johannsson seems to be a perfect choice as the producer of your next project. Did you choose him because he is a neighbor (or a fellow countryman, you know, a patriotic thing…), or because of his musical direction and approach? I have heard some great film music that he wrote that reminds me of the music on ‘Found songs’.

OA: I decided to contact him after i heard his latest album, Ghosts From the Past. Mostly just because of the sound, it’s so clear and pristine. I wanted a bit of his sound in my music. I hadn’t heard his film music at that time, but i have heard it now and it’s very nice. I definitely made the right choice because we have been working very well together and the album that’s coming together now as the result is one i’m incredibly happy with.

L: I think that one of the best things about the music you write is that you can crossover and get to a broader audience with different tastes. I was listening to ‘Found songs’ and my wife, who is not particularly into music, asked me what that wonderful music was that I was listening to. At the same time, I was listening to it and thinking that your music can be popular without sounding schmaltzy, just plain beautiful, and yet maintain a certain edge.

OA: This is indeed one of the goals i have set myself with my music, so i’m happy to hear that it’s working  🙂

L: Can you tell us about the Wayne McGregor project?

OA: It’s a contemporary ballet inspired by Shackleton’s expedition to the south pole in 1909, so Wayne wanted very cold and harsh sounds. I ended up making music that’s quite different from what i usually do, much more ambient sounds and some very intense drum beats that sometimes resemble the heaviest of IDM music. Wayne’s style is very cool, not the kind of dance you think of when you hear the word “ballet”. This was quite a lot of hard work but we finally premiered the piece (with me playing the music live) at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in October. We performed there for 5 nights in a row in front of 1500 people which was a lot of fun. The dance group is now on tour with the piece (just with my music on tape), and I’ve just released the sountrack for the piece on December 7th via Erased Tapes records.

Technical issues:

L:Where do you usually record your music? Do you do it at home or in a professional studio?

OA: I do a bit of both. When doing smaller projects, EPs or demos i do it at home. I have nice equipment there, but when working on a full length album or a bigger project i like being in a bigger studio.

L: What are you using for the electronic textures? What is your sequencing tool? Do you use vst`s? Which ones?

OA: I use Pro-Tools for everything but have a bunch of other programs that i connect to it via ReWire. So i use sounds from Reason to program a lot of my electronics, or just make some from scratch using field recordings or synths. I have a bunch of virtual instruments but mainly use them for demos – for recording i like to use the real thing.

L: Are you a technical person or do you have someone take care of the technical aspect of your projects?

OA: I’m very technical, i have recorded and mixed everything i’ve done myself so far (until this new full length i’m working on). I like having someone else take care of it, even when i can, just so i can concentrate more on the music itself.


Watch Olafur in the studio

During drums recording


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